Cortisol Test FAQ
What is a cortisol test?
Why is a cortisol blood test important?
What type of specimen will I submit?
Do I need to fast to take this test?
How long does it take to get test results?
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Cortisol Blood Test - More Information
The cortisol test, sometimes known as a total cortisol test, cortisol blood test, total hydrocortisone test or a serum cortisol lab test, measures the cortisol blood level.
Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal gland. Cortisol production is stimulated by the effect of ACTH blood levels on the adrenal glands which is why cortisol testing is done in conjunction with the ACTH test. Cortisol is a key part of the human stress response and preparing the body to respond to a fight-or-flight state. Cortisol does this by suppressing the immune system and metabolizing macronutrients. Additionally, cortisol works against insulin and stimulates a process called gluconeogenesis to increase the blood glucose level. Some people order the cortisol test with the insulin test and the glucose test to get an idea of how these hormones are interacting with each other and affecting blood sugar levels.
High cortisol levels are caused by stress states such as infections, intense exercise, trauma, and sleep deprivation. Traditionally, high cortisol levels are also seen in organic medical conditions such as Cushing's disease. Cushing syndrome is characterized by weakness and muscles loss. Low cortisol levels, sometimes referred to as adrenal insufficiency, can be caused by activities that reduce stress levels (e.g. massage, laughter) as well as supplementation with magnesium, vitamin C or special herbs. Low levels of cortisol are a hallmark of Addison's disease. Addison disease can cause changes in the skin as well as weakness and fatigue. Cortisol levels are highest when you wake up and lowest just before you go to bed.
To get a cortisol test near you at a Quest Diagnostics lab, just order online and get your blood drawn at the selected location. Once the cortisol lab results are ready, they will be available for download. As can be seen on the sample cortisol lab report above, the cortisol blood level is reported as a numerical value and can be compared against the reference range provided by the lab. In this cortisol blood test, cortisol levels are reported in mcg / dL.
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